LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2011

Observers of gay youth suicides can point to many different factors leading to their deaths. Fundamentally, suicide is what often comes when a person loses all hope of things ever changing for the better. Many gay kids who survive suicide attempts say that they reached their breaking point when they came to believe that their mere presence was disgusting, immoral, a gross pervert, and that the very thought of them makes people want to throw up.

And where do they get these ideas? They get them from the people around them. From classmates, teachers, preachers, neighbors, parents, relatives, and Tony Perkins. And Perkins is raising money off of it, with this fundraising plea that was sent out in the mail:

Now accepting blood money: Family "Research" Council's fundraising plea (Click to enlarge).

If you’ve not yet heard about this true story, get ready to be shocked–and to take action.

For President Obama to use the power of his office to promote such aims is truly appalling. I was especially disappointed to see pro-homosexual videos aimed directly at young people recorded at the White House. They were made in partnership with Dan Savage, a homosexual extremist who built a career on hatred of Christians and their values.

The videos are titled “It Gets Better.” They are aimed at persuading kids that although they’ll face struggles and perhaps bullying for “coming out” as homosexual (or transgendered or some other perversion), life will get better.

President Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, and many White House staffers recorded and posted “It Gets Better” videos on the first-ever White House web pages devoted exclusively to the so-called LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) “community.”

Can you imagine George Washington, Ronald Reagan, or any other president telling school children that it’s okay to be immoral and that they’ll eventually feel better about it?

It’s disgusting. And it’s part of a concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that “lifestyle.”

Thanks for giving what you can and for praying for FRC–and for our nation.

He knows what he's doing

All of the names are in there: immoral, perversion, disgusting, appalling. And of course the rest of FRC’s mission is to drive home the message that gay people makes Tony Perkins want to throw up. Their solution to the youth suicide problem? More of the same name-calling from other kids and all of the adults around them — and even from the President and First Lady of the United States if he were to have his way. We already have several examples of the kind of messages Perkins would be perfectly happy with from one presidential candidate and prospective First Lady.

There is a saying that’s going around in management circles: the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I don’t think Perkins is crazy. I think he’s evil because I don’t think he expects a different result. He’s fine with things exactly as they are right now.

It’s just one more reason why Perkins’s Family Research Council is among a very tiny handful of anti-gay groups on the SPLC’s list of certified hate groups.

[via Right Wing Watch]


August 19th, 2011

I love it, linking to Marcus Bachmann as “Prospective First Lady.” If the quack ducks…er, I mean if the duck quacks…

I will never understand (being the straight guy that I am) why so many of these anti-gay dudes act either in ways that I was taught as a kid were “unmanly” or like they are gay themselves. But then, I’m starting to think the average person isn’t nearly as obsessed with sex (especially the sex lives of others) as many of these Fundamentalists…and that alone really bothers me.

Something is obviously not working here, and I don’t mean just that they’re trying to make the rest of us miserable…something is obviously wrong with their mentality in general. Are there any of these guys that don’t have um, “issues?”

Well balanced people do not act like that about sex. Well balanced people (religious or not) do not look at ANY anti-bullying video and call it “immoral” they regard bullying as immorality.

What the hell is wrong with these people, and what the hell is wrong with people, that these people don’t have someone walk up to them every day and ask “what the hell is wrong with you??”

I guess for one thing I was taught that Christians were supposed to have more regard for life than that. Doesn’t matter if you believe someone’s going to heaven or hell, we only get one life.

Bose in St. Peter MN

August 19th, 2011

While suicide is fundamentally about despair and loss of hope, any discussion is incomplete until it addresses mental health and mental health care.

I haven’t followed the It Gets Better videos closely enough to know now often they promote good mental health care. Anyone who is feeling despair or the urge for self-harm ought to be hearing that it doesn’t just get better some day, feeling hopeless is a treatable condition, even if circumstances aren’t improving yet. Feeling suicidal is good reason to go an Emergency Room, or any other health care site, to say “It’s bad, and it has to get better now.”

That’s what makes Perkins’ anti-IGB campaign insidiously cruel. He shames and shuns vulnerable kids and young adults into believing they are unworthy of good mental health.

Priya Lynn

August 19th, 2011

Good point Bose. It’d be a great idea if the It Get’s Better campaign pointed youth to mental health counsellors.


August 19th, 2011

What gets me is the termerity these people have to call their hatred ‘Christian values’? Evidently they don’t even have the slightest understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Really, just how stupid are these people? Have the even read the New Testament? I’m not a religious person, but I do have a great deal of respect for the teachings of all the great philosophers. Just another closet case, I guess.

Ben in Atlanta

August 19th, 2011

Most of the IGB videos have a link to The Trevor Project at the end. Crisis intervention is about mental health.

No one ever improves by dying.

Staying in the closet is psychologically harmful to the closeted. It aslo affects all other areas of their lives.

Any therapist that doesn’t dream of the day that they will be unemployed sucks.

Most drama is self-inflicted if you survive to adulthood. (or leftover from your parent’s drama) You know it. Own it.


August 19th, 2011

Generally I’m not a fan of viewing our opponents as evil. Oftentimes they are just misguided, caught in an echo-chamber, naive, or overly-sincere. Even when they aren’t the designation of someone as “evil” stops any attempt toward empathy & finding common ground. I tend to cringe when either side uses such language because we’re all going to have to share this country as equal citizens (eventually) so we need to find that common ground, but Tony Perkins is evil. If I’m not mistaken he pioneered the use of the sham ACP’s misinformation in public debates. He even had the audacity to do so on live television in the closing moments of a debate. A time and place where the purposeful misinformation would linger for at least a day (I’m sure he was hoping it would linger longer). He often claims to have refuted people when all he does is frame an argumentum ad hominem. Through these actions it appears he understands and feeds the echo-chamber which then ensnares those who are ignorant (“I’m a-scared of them queers”) lazy (“what’s a fact-check” (TP: “why It’s just liberal propaganda my brother”))and naive (“oh he’s a good Christian because he says he is”) and then from their donations, makes a living. He’s evil. And the worst part is that because his tactics get votes to Republicans he’s well respected enough to get 19 congressmen (including 3 senators) to sign his awful attack ad against SPLC. The ad was so bad it actually misrepresented SPLC’s reason for designating FRC a hate group and encouraged SPLC to pen a number of additional refutations of Perkin’s and FRC’s work.

Priya Lynn

August 19th, 2011

“Most drama is self-inflicted if you survive to adulthood. (or leftover from your parent’s drama) You know it. Own it.”.

I don’t know what planet you live on, but in the experience I have and that of those I know virtually all drama is inflicted by others.

Bose in St. Peter MN

August 19th, 2011

No one ever improves by dying.

Most drama is self-inflicted if you survive to adulthood. (or leftover from your parent’s drama) You know it. Own it.

Hey, Ben…

These are both rational thoughts.

When my partner died by suicide a decade ago, his compromised mental health left him wanting, but unable, to think rationally.

He was in his mid-40s, still struggling with being divorced, and working through having his experience and talent as a church musician being rejected multiple times.

I love the fierce/fiery/fabulous/unstoppable stereotype about LGBTQ folks, but when the stereotype isn’t true (as is often the case), those of us who are fierce need to fight on behalf of those who aren’t.

Be well…


August 19th, 2011

People like Perkins who run these hate organizations are worse than political candidates for begging.


August 19th, 2011

I think gay people are getting the full force of Perkins hatred of gay people AND BLACK PEOPLE which he can’t publicly unload the way he used to be able to in Louisiana. Since extreme racist bigotry being freely expressed in public is no longer tolerated, he’s having to direct all of his multi-layered hate at the one group in America (besides Muslims) against whom any level of bigotry and hate is still considered acceptable.

As homophobic bigotry becomes less and less acceptable I can’t imagine who Perkins will turn his hate cannon on next.

Ben in Atlanta

August 20th, 2011

I’ve had two partners die from AIDS and a mother from Alzheimer’s. I’m pretty familiar with dementia, actually. Almost forgot Grandpa Gene, holy shit that man was nuts.

My Dad was kicked off the platform at the church where he was Minister of Music due to my mother starting some shit when he got arrested once.(Guess why? He’s still in complete denial.) He was given six months to live back in 2007. He’s still here.

Looked at one way, the biblical Job ain’t got shit on me. How much ‘suck’ can there be? Every time I got close to suicide myself, something stopped me. I talked to no-one about it. I had no support group. It can be done.

I work in the music ministry in my big gay church now among other things.

I do not apologize for being an optimist.

It got better for me.

And since my faith offers nothing to convert to or from and has no niceness requirement I’ll go right ahead and say it.

Hey Prya, your experience may be real to you. I claim the same. Fuck off.


August 20th, 2011

John Shore (the Christian writer) describes Tony Perkins thus:

This is Tony Perkins. No, not the actor who played Norman Bates in Alfred Hitcock’s Psycho. This Tony Perkins is much, much scarier. This Tony Perkins makes blood spiraling down a bathtub drain look like a cup of cherry Kool-Aid spilled at a Girl Scout fundraiser.

Every single time I think of Tony Perkins and this letter, nothing more interesting or edifying comes to my mind than a block of feelings that, broken down, runs about like this:

This animal. This cretin. This travesty. This demon. This parasite. This blight. This twisted purveyor of evil. This insidious enemy of everything for which Christ stood. This sickening mule. This heartless charlatan. This shameless huckster. This vile opportunist. This creator of human suffering. This trafficker in pain. This braying bully. This puffing affront to decency.

This preening, flag-waving goon.

This grinning, slavering creature who, in exchange for money, induces children to commit suicide.

This odorous, rotten chum pretending he’s nourishment.

This lover of hate.

If you’re a Christian who actually understands and cares about Christ, please tell anyone who will listen that Tony Perkins is to Christianity what a slimy, chewing worm is to a perfectly wonderful apple.

BTW, I went back and checked. Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council now have three LaBarberas between them, putting them in second place behind Bryan Fischer (four) and ahead of Mike Huckabee (two). No-one else, not even Scott Lively, has more than one.


August 20th, 2011

Tony Perkins is the antithesis of a Christian.


August 20th, 2011

Being raised in the church, I as well as millions of others know how hard it is. Jesus said to love ourselves and one another, but all we hear is how much people and God hate(s) us. Such hypocrisy. No wonder the churces in general are having trouble filling their pews!


August 20th, 2011

Amen Bernie!!!

Timothy Kincaid

August 21st, 2011


If the quack ducks…er, I mean if the duck quacks…

and i giggled – out loud.

Timothy Kincaid

August 21st, 2011

I think gay people are getting the full force of Perkins hatred of gay people AND BLACK PEOPLE …

funny how that sorta goes together..

Elisabeth Harrison

August 23rd, 2011

Hi Jim,

What you’ve said here is really important, and I agree with you completely, I really do.
But, please, please, please would you stop insulting psychiatrised people (some of whom are LGBT people) to make your point?

I get that you’re saying that people like LaBarbera are irrational, and that they (or their ideas) ought to be constrained and ridiculed, and I totally agree with you there, but it’s not okay to trivialise the experience of being held in restraints (such as a straitjacket, which you’ve pictured LaBarbera wearing). Many psychiatric patients have been injured (physically and psychologically) as a result of having been placed in restraints, and some have even died because of this practice. Making light of an abusive, rights-depriving psychiatric treatment is kind of an odd thing for a gay rights blogger to do. I read your excellent series on the “sissy boy experiments,” so I know you know that LGBT people have historically been subjected to abusive psychiatric treatment, and I know that you know how such treatment can completely destroy people’s lives.

I also think that it is not okay to define comments like those made by Perkins as “crazy.” Characterising disgusting people like LaBarbera and Perkins as “crazy” only intensifies the stigma associated with having contact with mental health services, which is really quite problematic in the context of this post. I mean, the subject is Perkins’ abhorrent response to the It Gets Better *suicide prevention* project, and it seems obvious to me that that many people who contemplate or attempt suicide do end up in the mental health system (whether or not we want to be there, and whether or not this is an appropriate course of action).

What happens to the gay kid who wakes up in a psychiatric ward after his suicide attempt fails? He then has to cope with the stigma of being “crazy” as well as “queer,” right? Why would you want to make this even harder for him?

I’m sorry this comment is so late. It’s taken me a bit of time to sort out how to express my thoughts about this. I care about it a lot because I’m a lesbian, I was bullied as a teenager, and I was one of the ones who ended up in a psychiatric ward. I’m also doing a dissertation on the topic of the experiences of LGBT people who have had contact with the mental health system, so I think about this issue a lot.

Thanks for reading this.

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